Use Vault to search Google Drive, Meet, and Sites

Vault is for administrators and legal personnel. Before you can use Vault, your Google Workspace admin needs to set up your account. Who is my administrator?

As part of your Google Workspace data eDiscovery projects, you can use Vault to search for items in Google Drive, including shared drives, Google Meet recordings, and new Google Sites sites. You can search titles and the contents of supported file types. You can also preview items and export your search results.

Things to know before you search

Before you search for messages, we recommend you review the supported data types for Drive, Meet, and Sites and the Vault Search FAQ.

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How do searches by account, organizational unit, or shared drives work?

The files that Vault searches depend on the type of search:

Search type Files searched
Specific accounts
Organizational unit

Vault searches:

  • Files owned by the account.
  • Files directly shared with the account, including files owned by users outside your organization.
  • Files shared with a group the account is a member of (if the group has less than 200 members).
  • Files shared with a group the account is a member of and that the account opened (if the group has 200 or more members).
  • Files shared with everyone in the organization or publicly that the account opened.

(Optional) Files in shared drives

Vault doesn’t search files in shared drives unless you choose to include them in the search. When you include shared drives with an account-based or organizational unit-based search:

  • Vault searches shared drives the searched account is a member of.
  • Only files that match the ownership or sharing conditions listed above are included in the search.
  • Vault doesn’t search all files in the shared drives the account is a member of. To search all files in a shared drive, do a shared drives-based search.
Shared drives Vault searches all files in the selected shared drives.

Note: Vault search doesn't include folders or Drive shortcuts.

Which parts of items in Drive are searchable?

For all items, you can search the title, owner, date last modified, and other metadata.

For supported file types, you can search for words and phrases in the contents of files. Vault indexes the first 100 pages of text files and the first 10 pages of text in image PDFs.

You can search text within the following file types:

Vault doesn't index the content of video, audio, image, or binary files.

How do I search for Meet recordings and associated chat, Q&A, and polls logs?
  • Recordings—You can search by the meeting title and metadata such as the owner, meeting ID, and recording start time. However, the content of Meet recordings isn’t indexed for search because they’re video files (MP4). To limit your search to only videos, you can use the search term type:video
  • Chat logs—Chat logs are saved as SBV files. Chat logs contain message timestamps relative to recording start time, first and last names of senders, and message text. You can search by the file name, text in the log, and metadata such as when the file was created.
  • Q&A and polls logs—Q&A and polls logs are saved as Google Sheets files. These logs contain the questions, answers, and participants. You can search by the file name, text in the log, and metadata such as when the file was created.

Learn more about Meet recordings

How do I search for sites?

To limit your search results to sites created in new Sites, enter the search term type:site. To exclude sites, enter the search term -type:site or NOT type:site.

What file types can I preview with Vault for Drive?

You can preview the following file types:

  • Files created with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings
  • Uploaded files such as .docx, .pdf, and .xlsx
  • When you preview a site, you can also preview external links. You can preview embedded files if they are preview supported, such as an embedded sheet or doc, and you have access privileges to the file. If you don’t have access privileges, you need to search for the embedded file directly.
Can I search within the revision history of a document?

No. You can search only the most recent version of a file. However, you can enter a version date as part of your search. When you enter a version date, Vault searches the current version of the file, but you preview and export the contents of the last version saved before 12:00 AM UTC on the date. Versioning is supported only in Google Drive for files created with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings. 

Some properties are reported for the current version, no matter what version date you specify. These properties include the title, who it was shared with, when it was last modified, approvers and approval status, and other data in Vault’s metadata.xml file.

Version snapshots include comments, subject to the following criteria:

  • Open comments are included only if your organization has comment or edit access to the document. Comments aren’t included if you only have view access.
  • An open individual comment (one with no replies) is included if: 1) the comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). A comment isn’t included in versions from before the comment was created.
  • An open comment thread (one with replies) is included in its entirety if: 1) the first comment was created as of the version date, and 2) the commented text existed in that version (even if the commented text is now deleted). For example, if a comment thread has two messages that were created on October 1 and October 5, a search with the version date of October 2 contains both comments even though the October 5 comment didn’t exist at the time.
  • Edited comments are included as they currently exist, not how they were at the version time.
  • Resolved or deleted comments aren’t included in a version, even if the comment was open at the version time.
Can I search the top organizational unit of my organization?

No. You can't search the top organizational unit. Select a child organizational unit or individual accounts. You can search Drive for up to 5,000 accounts total (as individual accounts or members of organizational units).

Creation and modification time of an uploaded file depends on the source of the file
The creation time and modification time that Drive sets for a file when it's first uploaded might match the local file or be equal to the upload time, depending on how the file was added to Drive. The following table shows which time is used for different sources, where:
  • Upload—The timestamp is when the file was uploaded to Drive
  • Local—The timestamp is the same as the timestamp of the original file on the source device or service
File source (client) Created time Modified time
Web app Upload

Before April 8, 2020: Upload

After April 8, 2020: Local

Drive File Stream Upload Local
Backup & Sync Upload Local
iOS Upload Upload
Android Upload Upload
G Suite Migrate Local Local
Drive API Can be set by caller Can be set by caller

Search for files in Drive

  1. Sign in to
  2. Click Matters. You search for data in matters, which are workspaces for your Vault projects. Matters let you group related holds, searches, and exports together. Matters don't restrict what data you can search—all data that you are allowed to access is searchable from any matter.
  3. If the matter you want to run the search query in exists, click it to open it. Otherwise, create a matter:
    1. Click Create.
    2. Enter a name for the matter and, optionally, a description.
    3. Click Create.

    The Search tab opens.

  4. For the service, select Drive.
  5. Select the source data to search:
    • All data—Search all messages in your organization.
    • Held data—Search only messages on hold for the matter.
  6. Select the entity to search:
    • Specific accounts—Enter up to 5,000 account email addresses.
    • Organizational unit—Search all accounts in a specific organizational unit. In the dialog that opens, select an organizational unit.

      If you choose an organizational unit with child organizational units, accounts in the child organizational units are also searched. The organizational unit must have fewer than 5,000 members, including child organizational units

    • Shared drives—Search one or more shared drives:
      1. In the dialog that opens, enter one or more shared drive members' email addresses.
      2. Click Find.
      3. In the list of shared drives, select one or more shared drives and click Add.
    • Sites—Search for sites by URL.
      1. In the dialog that opens, enter one or more published site URLs, separated by commas. The URL format is Note: You can’t search by page URL, only site URL. You can’t search by site URL for sites shared by external organizations.
      2. Click Find.
      3. In the list of sites, select the sites you want to include in your search and click Add.
  7. (Optional) If you search accounts or an organizational unit, to include files in shared drives, click Include items from shared drives "".
  8. (Optional) Select a time zone.
  9. (Optional) Enter a range for Date modified.
    • If you enter a start date, Vault returns all items modified on or after that date.
    • If you enter an end date, Vault returns all items modified on or before that date.
  10. (Optional) In Terms, enter one or more search terms:
    • To search for one or more keywords in the content, title, or metadata, enter words separated by spaces. For example, project goals.
    • To search for a phrase, put the words in quotes. For example, "project goals".
    • To search by account, sharing, item name, item type, or modification date, use search operators.

    Search terms can't exceed 2,000 characters.

  11. (Optional) To retrieve versions of files created in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings saved on a specific date, enter a Version date. Learn more
  12. Click one of the following:
    • Search—Run your search and return a list of items that match your query.
    • Export—Directly export the search results and skip the search results preview. Learn more about exports
  13. After your search or export completes, you can take the following actions:
    • To edit your search, click Expand.
    • To open a preview of an item, click the item.
    • To create an export of your search results, click Export. Learn more
    • To save your query, click Save. Learn more
    • To clear all fields and start a new search, click Clear.

Preview search results

After you run a search, you can review and download the items that matched your query.

Preview is supported for Google files such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, Sites, and Drawings, as well as other common types such as PDF, DOCX, and XLSX. You can't preview ZIP, binary, video files (Learn more). In Google files, you can't preview comments, suggested edits, or revision history.

  1. To preview an item, in the search results list, click the item.
    • For supported file types, a preview of the item opens.
    • For file types that aren't supported in preview, Vault shows an error but you can still download the item.
  2. To download an item from the preview, click More ""and then Download.
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